Game Preview: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

Texas Tech takes on Big 12 foe Oklahoma 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Norman (Okla.). points out the key players and matchups to watch for.

Who: Texas Tech (5-2, 2-2) vs. Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1)

Where: Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma

When: Saturday, October 24, 2:30 (CT)

Media: ABC (TV); Texas Tech Sports Network (Radio)

Coaches: Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury (17-15); Oklahoma, Bob Stoops (173-42)

Series History: Oklahoma leads 16-6; most recent, Oklahoma 42, Texas Tech 30, 2014

When Texas Tech Has the Ball

This game will pit a great offense against a very good defense. The Red Raiders are No. 2 nationally in total offense, averaging 624 yards per game, while the Sooner defense is No. 23 in total defense, giving up 322 yards per game. 

This could be yet another battle in which Tech actually has a better matchup running the football than passing it. The Red Raiders, not so very long ago one of the nation’s dogs in running the football, have quietly crept up to the No. 36 spot nationally in rushing offense (197 yards per game), and are situated at No. 6 in rushing yards per carry with a 6.1 number. The Sooners, on the other hand, are a mediocre No. 70 in rushing defense. 

The key for Tech offensively will be to find the holes in OU’s run defense and to exploit them relentlessly. In previous games the Red Raiders have sometimes gotten away from a proficient ground game, only to pay in price in terms of point totals. 

DeAndre Washington, who averages 106 rushing yards per game and averages seven yards per carry, will be the best back on the field in Norman, and it is not often that Tech can say that when playing Oklahoma. It would be wise to maximize this advantage to the full. 

Passing against Oklahoma, on the other hand, is risky business.

“They’re good. They come from everywhere," said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. "Coach [Mike] Stoops has been doing this a long time. Lots of different looks, very multiple, they have some corners that are playing at a high level, have a good front, so they’ll challenge us in every way.”

OU blitzes quite frequently, and the array of looks they show make it difficult to know from where the blitzes are coming. Consequently, the Sooners are No. 8 nationally in sacks per game. And the pass rush, combined with corners such as Zack Sanchez, who has been burned but who also has three interceptions, have helped Oklahoma to a No. 9 national ranking in pass defense (152 passing yards allowed per game). 

When Oklahoma Has the Ball

The Sooner offense is indubitably centered around former Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield. Elsewhere on the offense there are weaknesses and deficiencies, by Mayfield holds the unit together. He is No. 14 nationally in passing yards per game (313), and No. 4 in passing efficiency. Mayfield has also rushed for 166 yards, which trails last year’s freshman phenom Samaje Perine by only 254 yards. Sterling Shepard is Mayfield’s favorite target. He has five touchdown catches and averages 16.6 yards per grab. 

But as good as Mayfield and the Oklahoma passing game are, surprising weaknesses can be found in the OU attack. 

The Sooners have done a poor job of protecting the very mobile Mayfield. Hence, OU is No. 106 nationally in sacks allowed. 

The Oklahoma ground game, so recently a juggernaut, is also surprisingly puny. The Sooners are No. 103 nationally in rushing yards per carry, averaging only 3.81. 

Despite that fact you can be certain that Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will try to get that rushing attack untracked against a Red Raider defense that is No. 123 against the run, allowing 264 rushing yards per game. Tech linebackers Dakota Allen and Micah Awe are numbers one and two in the Big 12 in tackles, but a key reason why is that opposing offenses have sustained long drives against Tech. The Red Raider defense cannot allow OU to gash them with the run or it will be a very long day.

Tech’s lone hole-card on defense is turnover creation in which the Red Raiders rank No. 11 in the country (safety J.J. Gaines’ four interceptions ranks him No. 10 nationally). The Sooners are slightly better than average when it comes to ball security, so it is entirely possible Tech could have a leg up in the turnover battle. And the Red Raiders will need to take advantage of every comparative strength in order to win in Norman.

The Pick: Oklahoma 46, Texas Tech 38

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